The Water Cooler – Your Family’s History

February 27, 2014 12:00 pm · 43 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it!

The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Have you researched your family’s history? If so, how far can you go back, and where is your family from?

Talk about it….

1 back to Charlemagne February 27, 2014 at 12:02 PM

Actually, my grandfather researched it, and I just read his book.

2 Incognito February 27, 2014 at 12:12 PM

I, personally, have not researched my family, but other family members have. On my father’s side, family goes back to Germany and on my mother’s side, Canada. Both of my husband’s parents history goes back to Cork County, Ireland. I don’t know how far it was traced.

3 Anon February 27, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Yes – my wife & I have been using and other sources to put together our family trees. My side I can trace back my paternal roots to Holland & Germany circa 1600, maternal roots back to late 1600’s Spain.
My wife can trace her roots to Revolutionary War period ancestors. It has been fun to learn about your history!

4 Oh He!! No!!! February 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Why dredge up the past, the present has enough challenges today.

5 Yabadabado!!!!!! February 27, 2014 at 12:20 PM

I can trace my family back to the Flintstones…

6 Arthur February 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM

I wish I could, but China isn’t easy to research. All I’ve been able to find out is what part of China my grandparents (on my father’s side) came from. There’s also the language barrier since I only speak English.

7 wc February 27, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Mom’s side is well known 3 gens back. Nothing but blank stares when asking pop’s anything about his side. I’m probably better off not knowing.

8 Antler February 27, 2014 at 12:36 PM

Older relatives were the researchers. Both sides of my tree had male hierarchy traced back to their North Carolina Inner Banks coastal holdings from the English Lords Proprietors. The trail farther back indicates that all ancestors (both paternal and maternal) were from England, France, Germany, or Scotland…..but I don’t have anything like a formal documentation with copies of documents. My attitude is more that we all had to come from somewhere, that none of it was our doing, and so we should neither brag about it nor be ashamed of it. But we should try to be the best people we can be!

9 Oranje Boven February 27, 2014 at 12:40 PM

To the 1700-s. All from the great winter olympics nation of The Nethelands.

10 Shade February 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

I do lot of genealogy and have found that my family comes from England. Germany and Ireland. I have researched back to Oglethorpe’s first trip to America in the early 1600’s.. I have not gone in to the European part of my family. All of my ancestors came to Northern California just before, during and just after the gold rush days. Ancestry and Rootsweb have been a big help and I have found a lot of cousins of both my family and my husband’s family through them.

11 KAD February 27, 2014 at 12:42 PM

I haven’t but my Mom did some research. Her side came from England. My Dad’s side is from France. This goes as far as landing here in the U.S.

12 marinemom February 27, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Yes I have.
On my fathers side I have gone back to 1650 in New York and Maine (also known as Massachusetts Bay colony).
On my mothers side I only go back to 1864 from Sicily.

13 Enfield303 February 27, 2014 at 12:46 PM

No, I have not researched our history. My grandmother did some research years ago. From what I remember, most of my family comes from Germany. A group known as Germans from Russia settled in the Dakotas and were mostly farmers. I think we were a rather non descript bunch except for a link between my paternal grandmother and Oskar Schindler. I guess I should ask my mom if she has any of the findings. Do you have to pay for

14 Mary Ann February 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM

My aunt did some research over the past few years, as it turns out the things my Grandma used to tell us are true and I am actually President Andrew Jackson’s 8th great grandchild….. :)

15 Cowellian February 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Mary Ann, that’s pretty cool. His birthday is coming up soon (the Ides of March) and admission to the Hermitage is free that day.

Enfield303, Yes, Ancestry does cost. They have monthly and annual memberships. I think you can get a free short-term membership if you buy Family Tree Maker, just to get you hooked. I like keeping my online Ancestry trees synced with FTM on my own computer. We started with a US membership and upgraded to a world membership once we decided we needed the extra information.

We got Ancestry’s DNA kits for Christmas, and to no great surprise, I’m mostly European with about 12% Spanish/Greek/Italian/Russian, etc. But what was really worthwhile was finding several hundred new cousins. And if those cousins also had a tree on Ancestry, the results included our common ancestor.

16 Just Another Concord Resident February 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM

One of the cousins did the research, we go back to the year 70 AD in Scotland/ Ireland.. nobody famous thankfully, just a bunch of ner do wells.

17 Dorothy February 27, 2014 at 1:31 PM

Other members of the family have. One on my (mother) grandfather’s side can trace back to Ireland. One on my (father) great aunt’s side traces back to France and England. Can’t trace my father because his father was an illegal we think might have been from Germany.

18 Matt February 27, 2014 at 1:57 PM

My Dad’s family is from Mexico, several generations ago. My Mom’s family is from Puerto Rico. Nothing too exciting.

19 The Grant February 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM

family dates to the 10th century (including our coat of arms in the Siebmachers Wappen). Our Schloss is still standing outside of Nossen (Dresden) but is now owned by the German government and is an artist colony.

20 biggus thinkus February 27, 2014 at 2:02 PM

wow, i’m really impressed on the work the Claycordians have undertaken! I have an old friend that has the family tree QUILT from the late 1600’s to mid 1800’s, and from my side, my great uncle played first saxophone for Glen Millers orchestra! past that, all i know is i’ve got two great parents that are still with me.

21 UH1Vce160 February 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM

Yes. I have traced my family back to 1744 in New England. I would like to find out if they were Tories or Patriots.

22 Cowellian February 27, 2014 at 2:22 PM

If you want to find out if your ancestors were recognized as patriots of the American Revolution by the DAR, search their website at

To check the SAR database, go to

Many people are in both lists, but some are in one, but not the other. Not finding an ancestor in either of those databases doesn’t mean that they didn’t serve the patriot cause, it just means it hasn’t been documented.

23 Elwood February 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Only until I got to the first horse thief.

24 Gargoyle Socks February 27, 2014 at 2:30 PM

I’ve traced back to England and Scotland in the 1500s. Mayflower descendent. Settled in Maine. Son of the American Revolution on my mother’s and father’s side. Son of the Civil War (Union). Just an all ’round Yankee Doodle Dandy.

25 gimli February 27, 2014 at 2:47 PM

I have one side that made clothing for Continental soldiers. Formerly they were pacifistic Quakers that were not going to help with the war effort. Their story is the most interesting. Another family was involved with the creation of Trinity Church from England to New York.

26 Bubba February 27, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Looked up MY family tree.
Some are STILL living in them. ;)

27 the big cheese February 27, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Fathers side; 1854 Gorm, Denmark. Mothers side; 1612 Le Mans, France,
Mothers relative was on Cartiers boat(first french ship on the St lawrence river in Quebec……..

28 jtkatec February 27, 2014 at 3:24 PM

We know our origins are from a small village in Normandy, during that terrorist invasion of William the Bastard.

Then we somehow got to Ireland, with Richard Strongbow, (another terrorist invasion) but then there’s the big gap from there to America…….

29 no handle February 27, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Did some research on this and found we date back to knuckle dragging ape’s. Recent lineage has us up to date that the knuckles are no longer dragging.

30 anonanonagain February 27, 2014 at 4:04 PM

Having Immigrated from England, I know where most my family comes from. But in my veins surges German, Italian, Irish blood and a little from somewhere in East India, as some of my relatives were in India during the RAJ period……

31 Cowellian February 27, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I’ve got Strongbow in my tree, also. The Normans were basically Vikings with French passports.

32 JW February 27, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Wasn’t there a place in Concord that a person could go research their family history. I remember seeing it here in a post maybe a couple of years ago.

33 VikingPrincess February 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Have had so many family members do this. Maternal side more forthright with personal record keeping that is discoverable in most searches online (such as historical society records). Paternal was more allusive. Luckily a family member on that side did research and wrote a book.

To demonstrate, my genealogist family member took me in after an opening of the census records around 2001? Or so. This is when a person. Went door to door asking questions. My father’s paternal side showed they lived in the Balboa district of SFO during the great earthquake. Prior to that they lived in Ohio a short time after immigrating from England per Ellis island record. But to research farther was a different database. It continues according to my family member to Scandinavia and Scotland.
. but have not been able read this book Yet. Father took a DNA test for geneology and results were 100% northern Europe. Weird but true.

Maternal… paternal from Denmark to Midwest and maternal maternal Alsace Lorraine. Family member served under Napoleon but writings quote the area as The Fatherland. This line left for the US before WW two broke out so they did not serve the German side and landed in the Midwest as farmers. Mother born on a farm. ;)

34 VikingPrincess February 27, 2014 at 4:59 PM

I’d check with the local library to see what they know.
My family member goes to Salt Lake and other places. She took me to a library in Silicon Valley for her tutorial with me.

35 Cowellian February 27, 2014 at 5:31 PM

US Census results are available online through 1940.

Many LDS Churches have family resource centers that can help you get started.

36 MDHS80 February 27, 2014 at 5:58 PM

I’ve traced both sides of my family and it’s fun and interesting. What I really appreciate about my ancestors that all the men that were alive during the Civil War were all from Ohio (Army) and helped free the slaves in the Underground Railroad. My 8th great uncle wrote a book about his adventure with the Underground Railroad and dedicated the book to his best friend…Frederick Douglas.

37 Ted K., SuperMax February 27, 2014 at 6:59 PM

Yes, seven generations on my mom’s side and nine generations on my father’s side.

Mom’s side is from Seville, Spain. Dad’s side originates from the pagan Vikings. That means I have a tendency to slay enemies with an ax while drinking really, really good wine. Hahahaha.

38 VikingPrincess February 27, 2014 at 7:15 PM

@MDHS and many others
I think its great we can do this…

Access to core information has become much easier.

There was a time when people went only by their last names, showed up at Scottish games and got a family crest printed out with general info back to the Celts.

Not sure what LDS is doing but about thirty years ago a long lost family member of mine showed up with another family tree print out. The Mormons were graceful enough to allow her a visit and talk. Mostly to inform us that we were direct descendants to Brigham Young and some connection with Smith. Come to learn this was common of the time when searching lineage as a potential follower. Probably another reason I was taken to the actual records for review. Nope, no findings close the what my LDS kissed family member found ..hmmm

39 Julio February 27, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Regardless what has been found there are two who refuse to believe it. A brother and sister fight like hell over it. Weird.

40 mike February 27, 2014 at 10:47 PM

I spent a couple years on and off as my family’s researcher. One side from Ireland/England/Scotland and the other from Hungary/Austria/Germany.

I’m a descendant of 5 of the Mayflower passengers (Howland, Tilley and Samson). I was very surprised by many of the things I found. It was very interesting to my family and myself. It’s a never ending project….

41 ClayDen February 27, 2014 at 11:57 PM

I haven’t done a search, but a cousin on the maternal side did. Mostly English and German roots to Missouri, then to Oklahoma. My wife and I met and stayed with relatives in southern Italy in the little town my paternal grandfather and grandmother immigrated from around 1910. They came to the Bay Area, whereas most southern Italians wound up on the east coast. A great book on this is “Unto the Sons” by Gay Talese.

42 Mimi (original) February 28, 2014 at 11:32 AM

My sister has done a lot of research into my mother’s family’s background, which has produced many cousins once, twice and thrice removed; as well as learning that we are distant cousins of our first president, George Washington. She’s hit a bit of a brick wall when researching my father’s family history on his father’s side since the various family members emigrated here from a variety of Russian locales. We have ties to the Eastern Black Sea area, but haven’t unearthed a lot of detail. I enjoy hearing about things from her research but haven’t the patience to do the research myself!

43 macawlady February 28, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Tons of famous (infamous?) ancestors on both sides. Too many to list but supposedly a Mayflower person, among others. Also a cousin of George Washington. (Waves at Mimi)
Would rather know, though, who my ggrandma on my dad’s side actually was. So frustrating as no records can be found before her marriage. I’d jump for joy if I could find her records. Never mind all the famous ones!

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